Magnificent Stradivarius wins third straight Gold Cup
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Stradivarius became only the third horse to win three successive Ascot Gold Cups, triumphing in Thursday's Royal Ascot showpiece in stunning style under Frankie Dettori.
Stradivarius and Dettori made light of the soft ground he supposedly despises to storm 10 lengths clear of long-time pacesetter Nayef Road to emulate Sagaro and Yeats.
"This is an amazing achievement," said Dettori after winning his eighth Gold Cup, which was staged in unusual conditions with the meeting behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Only the third horse to win three. I was amazed to look round my shoulder and see everyone behind me under pressure with four furlongs to go."
Dettori put his hands together in the shape of a heart and raised three fingers after crossing the line, before a trademark flying dismount in the winner's enclosure.
"One day when I am sitting in my rocking chair, to say I rode the horse who won three Gold Cups in a row –- that's a big number," he said. "I am very proud of it.
"I have ridden some great horses, and he will go down as one the great stayers, definitely my best stayer.
"I'm so proud of him, he has brought me such joy. He wears his heart on his sleeve. Even with no crowd I'm quite emotional. A very proud moment.
"It's always that scary moment when you get to the furlong marker -- will he pick up or not -- but he did and he stretched away by 10.
Dettori is just three shy of Lester Piggott's record of 11 Gold Cups.
"Does the fact that I have now won eight Gold Cups mean I am old, or I have been lucky in the race?," smiled Dettori.
- 'Ride him chilly' -
Winning trainer John Gosden rejected the notion Stradivarius was the best of an average group of stayers.
"He has beaten top-class horses throughout his career," said the 69-year-old.
"He has heart and class and I talked up the soft ground being against him so I could as a trainer have an excuse if he was beaten."
Gosden, who earlier in the meeting passed the 50 winners landmark, said he knew Stradivarius was up for it when he saddled him.
"Stradivarius is quite a character," he said.
"I must change my aftershave, as he got quite coltish whilst I was saddling him.
"He is quite a noisy character and he was having a shout and play out there -– he does think life is a bit of fun and when you win races like this, I suppose it is."
Gosden did not rule out a meeting of Stradivarius and his other stable superstar Enable in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October which the latter will be bidding to win for a third time in four years.
"He's (Bjorn Nielsen the owner/breeder) passionate about breeding and keeps trying to breed a Derby winner, but he's got a very good Cup horse," said Gosden.
"It's just a pity he can't be here today. It's down to Bjorn whether we come back for a fourth.
"He ran brilliantly in the Coronation Cup, so an Arc on Autumn ground isn't out of the question."
Yeats went on to win a record four Gold Cups but Johnny Murtagh, who rode him on the last two occasions, said Stradivarius could equal that.
"This lad could just do it," Murtagh told ITV Racing.
The rest of the field had few excuses with the 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter running on late to be third.
"The long-term target has always been the Melbourne Cup," said trainer Charlie Appleby.
"What we have seen today, he is back to where he was in Melbourne.
"Just ride him chilly (out the back), as he sees it out well and has a good turn of foot."
© 2020 AFP